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Trip Report    

Sea Kayak - Tacoma Narrows

Everybody seemed satisfied and it turned out to be a very nice day to be on the water. Photo credit: Melissa Romeo

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • TIDES: STEILACOOM: 11.6 @ 0545 / -0.49 @ 1228 / 13.39 @ 1922 TACOMA NARROWS BRIDGE: 1073 @ 0536/-0.48 @ 1206

    CURRENTS: NARROWS SOUTH END: -4.1 @ 0854 / S @ 1240 / +4.74 @ 1545




There were no students needing to be qualified on this paddle. Alison and Sandra had carpooled and were waiting at the Sunnyside Beach Park when I arrived ahead of the scheduled 0800 meeting time.  Melissa and Shyril arrived soon after.  We unloaded all of our stuff and then the four of us took our cars to Titlow Beach and Shyril brought all the drivers back while Sandra stayed with the boats. It took at least half an hour. The parking at the park is $5 per vehicle, cash only; the on street parking at Titlow is free. We then used our wheels and also carried the boats and gear down the winding concrete path across the railroad tracks to the left of the volleyball court.  There was a crowd of scuba divers gathered for what looked like a class; I thought sea kayaking was gear intensive!  There were a few steps over the rocks before reaching the pleasant beach. After a pre-trip huddle we launched on time at 1000.  The park is pretty much halfway between the Steilacoom ferry dock and the Chambers Creek trestle bridge.  We ducked into the outflowing creek to find several fisherman along the narrow and increasingly shallow water.  We went on around the curve and continued on until we pretty much ran out of water.  I pointed out the weir at the top of the area and shared the dangers of one to the group.  This is a nice area to view birdlife and there were plenty of them back there in the fallen trees, banks and shallows in the middle of the channel. Going out was faster than coming in and as we approached the trestle I shared my binoculars to take a closer peek at the osprey nest with at least one adult on it on the NE corner as we slid back under it. We then had to go out a ways to get back into deeper water but went only a short way up before getting out for a bio and snack break and for some to shed some clothing layers in front of the Chambers Bay Golf Course.  I did a quick wet exit and swam my boat back in; it was my first since my knee surgery last fall and it went quickly and easily.


After pausing to watch some dolphins going by we continued on in the dying current to go around the point and go into the skanky Day Island Marina.  It was already a mud flat on the east side and we kept on for a few minutes on the west side but there wasn’t much to see. A GBH seemed quite comfortable having us pass by; they usually fly away.  Only one boat came out before us; it was a quiet day.  The sun was trying to come out as we approached the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.  There was a power boat pulled up at the boat launch just before the bridge and there looked like some sort of gathering with portable gazebos set up but few people at the top of the ramp.  The boat was blaring dance music that I was wondering if people could hear on the other end of Fox Island. It was 1245 and the flood just getting started as Sandra and I cut to the shore while the others stayed out a little farther, falling behind a bit.  We waited until they had caught up to us and then I reviewed and briefly demonstrated how to cross moving water calculating ferry angles using the “rule of thumb”.  Another break was needed so after we had floated south we pulled back out at the exposed beach before reaching the boat ramp for some more snacks. After launching we headed towards the mid channel, letting the current push us rapidly south.  It only took a few minutes to come up even with the pilings when we then made a hard left to finish the easy paddle straight back to the rocky shore by all the pilings.  Good teamwork was applied to get all the boats and gear up to the grassy area at the street level.  New sand dumped along the beach access made this easier.  


We brought our cars down to the staging area and Shyril and I quickly got loaded up to do the return shuttle to the now crowded parking lot at Sunnyside.  We had our post trip discussion over food and drink at The Spar in Tacoma where I received some good suggestions for next year.  Everybody seemed satisfied and it turned out to be a very nice day to be on the water.  All paddlers performed well with excellent group dynamics.